Child Sexual Abuse: A Counseling Priority

 

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When an offender deliberately hurts a minor sexually, psychologically, physically, or through negligence, it is a criminal act called child abuse. This article centers on child sexual abuse, its warning signs, and why it is a priority for counselors and therapists to tackle.

Child Sexual Abuse

This is a type of child abuse that involves sexual acts with a minor. A child is not capable of giving consent to any sexual activity. When offenders engage with a minor this way, they are doing a criminal act that can yield longstanding effects on the minor for years. Sexual abuse in children does not necessarily have to involve physical contact between the minor and the offender. Other forms of child sexual abuse also comprise:

  • Fondling
  • Exposing one’s genitals to a child
  • Masturbation in front of the child or forcing the child to masturbate
  • Owning and sharing porn pictures or videos of minors
  • Intercourse
  • Sex trafficking
  • Any sexual behavior detrimental to a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

What The Offender Looks Like

Most of the offenders are family or friends with the minor. More than 90% of the victims below the age of 18 are acquainted with the abuser. An offender is not necessarily an adult to be able to hurt the minor. He can connect with the minor, including a playmate, older sibling, teacher, caretaker, family member, or parent of another minor. Experts agree that child sexual abuse is caused by an abusive act that exploits a child’s defenselessness and is never connected to the gender of the abusive person.

Sex offenders can control their victims, so they keep mum about the abuse that took place, and they do this through various tactics. Often, the offender will take advantage of his position to cause fear to the minor. He may tell the minor that what they’re doing is usual or that both of them enjoyed it. An offender may also threaten the minor if he does not agree to participate in his plans. Ultimately, child sexual abuse does not only cause physical destruction – it is a destruction of authority and trust.

Warning Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse

It can often be daunting to identify. The abuser could be a person that you have known for some time now or someone you trust, which is why it can be even more difficult to notice. Take a look at the following significant signs.

Physical:

  • Bloody, tattered, or dirty underclothes
  • Bruises or inflamed genital area
  • Constant yeast or urinary infections
  • Itching, burning, or painful genital area
  • Abnormal sitting or walking posture

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Behavioral:

  • Phobias develop
  • Alterations in a child’s hygiene – she may not want to take a bath, or he takes a bath many times.
  • Has difficulty in school, like being absent or drops out
  • May have nightmares and wets the bed
  • Presents with signs of PTSD, anxiety, or depression
  • Leaves home
  • Self-harm
  • He has suicidal ideations, which he verbally expresses
  • Improper sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Often scared of some physical contact

Longstanding Outcomes

Studies have constantly revealed that child sexual abuse can produce deleterious effects on a child’s mental and physical health and future sexual ideas. Depending on the degree of and the number of unpleasant experiences, the abused child can manifest extensive and lifelong outcomes. Those who have gone through several traumas and got only very little parental attention and support may develop PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Their capacity to rely on others to care for them may also be endangered.

Unfortunately, when minors do not divulge sexual abuse and do not get efficient counseling, they might eventually struggle with their difficulties for a long, long time. As one child has stated, “Abuse is like a boomerang. If not dealt with, it could come back and harm you.” On the contrary, those who have found help through counseling and have support and care from parents heal and recover without existing longstanding effects.

Criteria For Selection

The criteria for choosing working interventions for the sexually abused child include:

  • The intervention must be well-written in a book or treatment manual with available counseling training.
  • The intervention was assessed for young children and teens that go through sexual assault or abuse as the primary trauma in one or several randomized clinical trials that were recorded pertinent treatment outcomes for alleviating symptoms of trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder.
  • The intervention utilizes reliable, acceptable, and developmentally correct tools to evaluate outcomes.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a psychoeducational and evidence-based treatment regimen used for young children and teenagers affected by trauma. It is designed to decrease the prevalence of challenging sexual behaviors. CBT entails the participation of the child’s family and other support networks in the treatment and needs weekly attendance, monitoring, support, and continuing evaluation of the child’s improvement and success throughout the treatment.

 

 

Child Abuse From A Counselor’s Point Of View

 

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Counseling children who have gone through some abuse is a daunting obligation for counselors and other mental health providers. The prevalence of reported and confirmed neglect and child abuse has increased significantly since the birth of the battered child syndrome and ensuing mandated laws. The country has progressed through phases of public awareness regarding the matter. Presently, counselors have become more aware of the extensive sexual abuse in teen girls and are finding ways to increase awareness of sexual abuse in teen boys. Sudden changes concerning the subject require that counselors are updated on the signs of maltreatment, the existing laws for alleged abuse, and how kids can be best supported to overcome the impacts of this kind of negative family crisis.

Forms Of Maltreatment

A typical premise that is fundamental to many forms of maltreatment – neglect, sexual abuse, and physical abuse – is emotional pain. A physically abused child frequently feels emotionally distressed from unreliable parenting and anxiety. A sexually abused child feels a lack of supervision or affection, leaving him susceptible to the elusive advances of the offender. The child then feels worried or indifferent about the kind of life he has – one where his primary needs are not met. Similarly, a student who is reported to the counselor because he is having trouble socializing or getting good grades in school could be a victim of abuse.

Physical Abuse

This is commonly described as the deliberate perpetration of harm on a child by his guardian or caregiver. It presents as bumps, burns, wounds, scratches, or ultimately, death. It may happen through beating, biting, punching, kicking, or other kinds of violence targeted at a child. Most, if not all, parents, who abuse their kids, have been raised in environments where some abuse transpired.

Sexual Abuse

It is the adult abuse or manipulation of the usual childhood development stages by using sexual activity. Cases considered sexual activity include kissing, fondling the genitals with fingers, touching, and actual sex. In scrutinizing the structures of sexual abuse, it is vital to note that the facts and reports are quickly changing. The initial presumption was that offenders of sexual abuse were largely men. Still, experts studied women perpetrators and documented that both males and females aided offenders or abused independently – mostly those who came from unpleasant childhoods or were sexually abused themselves. For the past ten years, it has been recognized that male kids also have a higher likelihood of being victimized.

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Neglect Or Emotional Abuse

Emotional abandonment typically indicates constant unresponsiveness to a child’s need. It entails an array of behavioral patterns, from a parent who is apathetic to his child and keeps his child in the crib at all times to the crazy parent who is incapable of accepting the reality of her child’s world, or the fact that she has a child. Emotional abuse, however, denotes voluntary maltreatment or rejection of the child by his parent. Longstanding verbal abuse damages the child’s self-confidence. Using excessive punishment or restriction is also a type of emotional abuse. Emotional neglect or abuse is typically complemented by other types of mistreatment, including physical and sexual abuse.

Counseling The Abused Child

One of the basic goals of counseling the abused child is to offer a secure space and a secure relationship. The child may explore the new alterations to a more secure world and where the child’s stunted development may be modified. Counselors are not capable of fully replacing the necessary parenting connection that helps abused children develop and grow. However, they have the chance to guide the children and help them establish an honest and safe relationship with adults.

The premise of understanding the abused child is to identify during the developmental phase instead of the chronological phase. The counselor will recognize the adjustments that the child may have learned because of the abuse and teach him better methods of interacting. Children most often uncover in play the tragic events of the past years. They might also present unstable behaviors that place them at risk of added abuse.

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As per their relationships with their counselors, working with abused children needs many strategies other than listening and conversing. Utilizing structured and unstructured plays, music, or art therapy may provide children with a secure technique to express their anger, tension, anxiety, and worries. Younger kids can efficiently project how they feel about family matters when the counselor utilizes dolls and dollhouses for play. Several abused children have not tried engaging in play and acting out activities and may work well with just free play with the counselor. Reading stories, role plays, and using puppets are techniques that abused children can do.

Abused children also work efficiently when counselors deal with them in groups. Younger kids do well with playgroups, while the older ones can take advantage of activity groups and treatment-oriented groups.